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     This Week's Focus: "Surprised by Love"
       Click the link for Luke 10:25-37 


Dear Friends,
My mother-in-law is one of my heroes. For thirty-six years she has been the principal caregiver for my brother-in-law John, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. That means thirty-six years of therapy and specialists, thirty-six years of lifting and shifting, thirty-six years of wiping butts and blowing noses, thirty-six years of bathing and shaving, thirty-six years of struggle and heartbreak … but most of all… thirty-six years of love. And that’s not just giving love. As she tells it, Good Samaritans spring up all the time from so many unexpected places. She is constantly surprised by love.

There was the homeless man who stopped at the supermarket to lovingly engage John and then shows her his special technique for feeding bottles into the deposit machine. There was the car-wash worker dressed in rags, who dropped his bucket and ran to help lift John from his chair into her car. There was the double-amputee wounded warrior who swam with John and helped lift him from the pool. There are the teenage street kids, decked out in hip-hop finery, who interrupt trying to look cool to come over, smile and say hello. There are the scores and scores of African-American and Hispanic aides and assistants, working at minimum wage, who are so generous with their time, their care and their love.

Over the years, my mother-in-law has developed a “Samaritan Theory.” She says that people who are struggling, are rejected, who are not respected, have an immediate empathy for someone they see as a kindred spirit. John’s vulnerability is a portal for their goodness. They know that he will not reject them. They have a ready outlet for the tremendous store of love they carry with them. In an instant, there are smiles all around. For a brief moment, love is in the air. Then everyone goes their own way, better for touching each other’s lives.

In this week’s gospel, the Jewish traveler would normally have nothing to do with the despised Samaritan. And the Samaritan would never have dared to approach the traveler for fear of stinging rejection. Had they passed walking on the road, both would have averted their eyes and hurried on. The vulnerability of the beaten traveler serves as a portal for the Samaritan to enter his life.

For the proud and indifferent passersby, there is no portal. They are the movers and shakers. They despise vulnerability. They see only a messy, inconvenient waste of time. Why bother?

It’s an accurate portrait of how pride kills love… and humility kindles it. When we become so impressed by our pedigree, by our resume, by our social connections we become blind to Christ’s message writ large. When we are so far into ourselves… there is no time for God or neighbor… much less the least among us. When we become so preoccupied with our own comfort and convenience, we are oblivious to the suffering that surrounds us.

Worse yet and far more common is our profession of grave concern for good causes in the abstract and our total failure to do good in the real world. How often have I been guilty of reading high-minded editorials and then walked right past the squalor spread out before me? How often have I made that passage and never parted with a smile, a greeting, a kind word or a helping hand… much less with material or spiritual support? How often have I missed an opportunity to surprise and be surprised by love?

In this gospel, Christ calls us to break through our zombie state of self-absorption…  to become Good Samaritans. In Christ, God gives us the perfect portal for love … both for giving and receiving. What greater vulnerability than birth in a stable and death on a cross? What greater example than a life spent seeking out the vulnerable, the despised, the rejected?

At different times in our lives, we will be in both roles…the victim and the Samaritan…the vulnerable and the empowered. In this gospel, Jesus calls us to get over our pride and place ourselves on that road. Don’t avert your eyes. Don’t walk by. Take every opportunity to love. And when in doubt, love some more. Even when you’ve made it a habit, you’ll be constantly surprised by love.

God love you!




 

A Reflection for 
The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery

 
Copyright © 2019 David Sellery, All rights reserved.


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